NEW YORK-Matt Harvey leads the National League in strikeouts and is also its unofficial leader in generating adjectives from observers who are running out of words to describe his dominance.
On Wednesday night, he added another one to the adjective list: Efficient.
Harvey threw a masterful four-hitter for his first career complete game and first shutout as he led the New York Mets to a 5-0 win over the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
"He's special, there's no other way to put it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's got all the tools, all the credentials. He's got the stuff and he's got the makeup to be very good. Tonight I think is the first of many shutouts this kid's gonna pitch."
Harvey produced that shutout in atypical fashion. He struck out six batters, only the eighth time in 23 starts this year that he's struck out less than seven batters in a start.
But by pitching to contact and throwing his fastball at 94 and 95 mph instead of his usual 97 and 98 mph, Harvey needed just 106 pitches, including 78 strikes, to complete a gem that lasted a crisp two hours and 20 minutes.
"To do what he did was very good - I hope he got something out of it," Collins said. "Obviously there's been other nights when he's throwing 98 with the curveball and he's striking out 10 or 11. Those are pretty dominant performances. But tonight he got it done with precision."
Harvey threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of the 30 batters he faced and got to a three-ball count just twice, both to Troy Tulowitzki. He threw more than 11 pitches in an inning just three times, retired 15 of the game's final 17 batters and allowed only one runner to advance beyond first base.
"Go nine innings, that's where you want to go as a starter," Harvey said. "So whether I struck out 10 or three or one, it's nine innings with a bunch of zeroes. That's all that matters."
Only bad luck threatened to imperil Harvey's evening. He was one strike away from victory when Charlie Blackmon smoked a liner off Harvey's right kneecap and into right field for a single.
Collins raced out to Harvey, who said he was fine and threw a warm-up pitch before facing Tulowitzki. With the crowd of 27,581 standing and roaring, Harvey fell behind Tulowitzki 3-1 before he came back to retire him on a pop-up to Daniel Murphy.
As the ball landed in Murphy's glove, Harvey calmly pumped his right fist. He had the knee wrapped as he spoke in the locker room half an hour later.
"I was happy with weak contact today," Harvey said. "It wasn't like I wasn't trying to strike anybody out, but today was [about] throwing strikes, mixing in pitches and getting early contact. The guys [on defense] made all the plays."
It was actually the second time Harvey has thrown nine innings. He tossed nine innings of one-hit ball in the Mets' 1-0, 10-inning win over the White Sox on May 7.
This time, the Mets (51-60) ensured his brilliance would not go to waste by producing single runs in the second and fourth via RBI singles by Omar Quintanilla and John Buck, the latter of whom finished with two hits.
"He's thrown well all year," Buck said of Harvey. "But to shave off those four or five [or] six pitches every four or five hitters, that makes him go one more inning."
Rookie Wilmer Flores, who started the second-inning rally with his first career hit, provided insurance with a three-run double in the eighth off Manny Corpas.
Jhoulys Chacin was almost as good as Harvey but took the hard-luck loss for the Rockies (52-63) after allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk over seven innings. Chacin struck out five, including the side in the seventh.
Wilin Rosario, Michael Cuddyer and Nolan Arenado all had singles for the Rockies.
"When he's on, he's one of those guys that you're not going to get many opportunities [against]," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Harvey. "He was real good. We weren't going to string much against him tonight."
NOTES: It was a doubly downbeat day for the Rockies, who placed All-Star LF Carlos Gonzalez (sprained right middle finger) on the 15-day disabled list before the game and put RHP Tyler Chatwood - their scheduled pitcher for Thursday's series finale - on the disabled list afterward. Chatwood was scratched Tuesday due to left hamstring tightness but was diagnosed with right elbow inflammation on Wednesday. Weiss said he didn't know who would start for the Rockies on Thursday. ... The Rockies replaced Gonzalez by recalling LHP Jeff Francis from Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... The Mets activated LF Lucas Duda from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Mets manager Terry Collins said he didn't know when SS Ruben Tejada would return to the Mets. Tejada has just four hits in his last 34 at-bats for Las Vegas. ... Manny Gonzalez, the home plate umpire who left Tuesday's game after taking a foul ball off the throat, wasn't in uniform Wednesday night. He was replaced by David Rackely. Tony Randazzo, the first base umpire Tuesday, moved behind the plate.